Phaedrus’ THE ASS DERIDING THE BOAR*

Posted by jlubans on March 04, 2019

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Caption: Drawing by Ernest Griset (1874)

Fools often, while trying to raise a silly laugh, provoke others by gross affronts, and cause serious danger to themselves.

An Ass meeting a Boar: “Good morrow to you, brother,” says he.
The other indignantly rejects the salutation, and enquires why he thinks proper to utter such an untruth.
The Ass, with legs crouching down, replies: “If you deny that you are like me, at all events I have something very like your snout.”
The Boar, just on the point of making a fierce attack, suppressed his rage, and said: “Revenge were easy for me, but I decline to be defiled with such dastardly blood.”

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One moralist explains the wisdom behind not responding vengefully: “it takes off something from the reputation of a great soul, when we see it is in the power of a fool to ruffle and unsettle it.”
The boar responds but only on his own terms. Likely, the ass is left sitting on his hind quarters puzzling over the boar’s lofty language.
Foolish speech can be countered with wit; no need to go to war.

*Source: THE COMEDIES OF TERENCE AND THE FABLES OF PHÆDRUS.
TRANSLATED By HENRY THOMAS RILEY, B.A.
TO WHICH IS ADDED A METRICAL TRANSLATION OF PHÆDRUS,
By CHRISTOPHER SMART.
LONDON: GEORGE BELL & SONS, 1887.

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© Copyright John Lubans 2019

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